There are a lot of common misconceptions and questions about CNC manufacturing among small shop woodworkers. Some worry that adding a computer-controlled machine somehow denigrates their craftsmanship and might hurt marketing to discriminating customers. Others who have a more positive attitude toward CNC in general are still concerned about the complexities and figuring out what it takes to get started.
Coholic did have previous CNC experience going back to his college years in the 1990s, but it took him a while to add the technology once he got his own shop. Now he says his biggest mistake was investing too much in conventional machinery and not the CNC. He warns and advises those considering getting started with CNC, “Until you have a machine in the shop it’s hard to imagine what you can use it for. As you grow more comfortable, the more things you can do.”
He also recommends first-time CNC buyers plan ahead and “get as much machine as you can afford.” He wishes he got a machine with a taller Z axis, which would be helpful in the carving work he does. However, at the same time that he recommends investing in more machine, he also says he would get a second ShopBot rather than spend all the money in a much bigger CNC machine. That way, he said, he could have backup and could have multiple jobs working at the same time.
Thomson went through some growing pains when he got his machine because the manufacture was changing hardware and electronics at the time. It took four weeks to get it up and running, and Thomson relied a lot on the help of other ShopBot users. He stresses the importance of training, and suggests that new CNC adopters would be best served by getting a manufacturer to put everything together and get the machine running quickly in your shop. “Have the professionals come in and get it fully operational,” he urges. “Get the training.”
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